22 September 2012

Triumph of the Image in the Persian Gulf Oil War

While the 2003 American invasion and ongoing occupation of Iraq, initiated by then president George W. Bush, raised a global protest movement against the growing imperial aspirations of the USA, to many observers the previous 1990-91 Persian Gulf Oil War, waged by George Bush Sr., inaugurated the so-called ‘New World Order,’ in which the US with its interests and allies would attempt to reign supreme and remain unchallenged. One of the key features of implementing such imperial aspirations was control of media and information sources, and in this way it would 'not be another Vietnam,' as Bush the Father was often quoted to say. As such, the 1990-91 Iraq war remains an important turning point for how tight control of information sources can be pressed into service to create the illusion of multilateral support for a supposedly ‘clean’ unilateral action.

11 September 2012

Thinking Critically about Terrorism in the Media

Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa once said, 'We have wondered why it was that Dr. Savimbi's Unita in Angola and the Contras in Nicaragua were "freedom fighters," lionized especially by President Reagan's White House and the conservative right wing of the United States of America, whereas our liberation movements such as the Pan-African Congress were invariably castigated as terrorist movements.' Dr. Savimbi is a freedom fighter and Nelson Mandela is a terrorist. Yasser Arafat's Palestine Liberation Movement (PLO) is a terrorist movement, but the Shah of Iran is a statesman. Mandela is a statesman, but so is Saddam Hussein. Hezbollah is a terrorist movement, and Iran supports terrorism, but Arafat is a statesman. The Contras are freedom fighters, and Syria is on the list of states supporting terrorism. Osama Bin Laden is a freedom fighter and Arafat is a terrorist, again. General Musharraf is a statesman, but Saddam now supports terrorist movements. The Irish Republican Army is a terrorist movement, the Taliban are statesmen, but Bin Laden is now a terrorist. Arafat is a statesman, again, but the Taliban are terrorists. Ariel Sharon and the king of Saudi Arabia are statesmen, while Hezbollah is still a terrorist movement. For those of us who get our news from the mainstream media like CNN and the BBC, it is difficult enough to keep track of the shifting and often contradictory images and sound bites used to describe complex political events, so how, in such a climate, can we ever learn to think critically about terrorism?